By:  Hal de Becker


In the fairy tale, Cinderella is thrilled to attend a ball at the Prince’s palace.  The audience attending Moscow Festival Ballet’s recent performance of “Cinderella” at Ham Hall was no less thrilled and delighted. 


For many years Andrew Grossman’s Columbia Artists Management has represented exceptional Russian ballet dancers and companies on their USA tours.  One of the organization’s most enduring collaborations has been with Sergei Radchenko the former Bolshoi Ballet star and founder of Moscow Festival Ballet (MFB).   


This season’s troupe, especially the principals and soloists, was comprised of exceptionally attractive young dancers who, despite their youth, were artistically mature, seasoned performers.  


When I visited backstage at intermission the dancers were not idly giggling or chattering but were sewing toe shoe ribbons, warming up their legs and feet and concentrating on their roles. This serious attention to their art, insisted upon by company manager Madelaine Collinson, was reflected in the high quality of the performance.


Under the guidance of ballet master Alexander Daev, the troupe’s technical level was particularly high.  The dancers were well rehearsed and, with their good looks, bright personalities and Vaganova training, deserved the many enthusiastic ovations they received.


The ballet was first choreographed to Prokofiev’s score in 1945 by Rostislav Zakharov and was the version MFB presented.  Rather than focusing on details of the all-too-familiar story of Cinderella’s rise from rags to riches the production offered an abundance of lively, entertaining dance. 


As the Prince, guest artist Aidos Zakan seemed to spend as much time in the air as on the ground.  His slow soaring leaps ending in soft silent landings drew oohs and aahs from the discriminating audience.  With one such grand jete he almost over-shot the edge of the stage.  


Maria Kluyeva, in the title role, was adequate but undistinguished.  Perhaps to look more innocent and unworldly she wore little or no makeup resulting in an expressionless presence.


Elena Khorosheva displayed a unique comedic flair as the more bumbling of the “two ugly sisters” (both were actually quite beautiful) and underplayed her strong technical skills.  Natalia Ivanova was appropriately mean and haughty as the other sister.  


(Mr.) Evgeniy Rudakov dominated most of the scenes he was in with a delightfully flamboyant portrayal, en travesti, of Cinderella’s’ stepmother.  As the jolly Jester, Eldar Arsembaev provided technical fireworks including consecutive double air turns. 


Also noteworthy was the charm and effortless precision of Eriko Noritake and Anton Baglikov in the Chinese duet. 


Galina Ishenko, Daria Lednikova and Viktoria Baldanova were impressive in various roles as were their partners Samat Abdrakhmanov, Azamat Asangul Uulu and Alexander Yakolev.    


The elegant costumes by Elisaveta Dvorkina were bright and colorful and looked brand new.  Marina Borodina’s lighting design was consistently effective. 


The Performing Arts Center’s staff deserves credit for acquiring this and other high caliber cultural attractions and for providing smooth on-stage support to them.  To name just a few:  Larry Henley, Lori James, Jennifer Vaughn, Dave Gruzin and of course Dean Jeff Koep. 

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